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Restaurant Review: Saahil

AA Grill finds Southport's queuing-up curry experience isn't as hot as it's made out to be

Written by . Published on July 28th 2011.

Restaurant Review: Saahil

FUNNY place, Southport. Not so much Lee Mack funny ha ha; more funny peculiar, though perhaps not as peculiar as Albert Pierrepoint, another of the town's famous ex-residents, who, aged 11, wrote an essay that opened with the words, “when I leave school I should like to be the Official Executioner”. 

We went for the mix (sic) platter
on the basis that 'it was very good last
time'. This time it was grim. The meat 
uniformly dry and overcooked; the salad
limp, discoloured and flavourless

His childhood ambition came true and, as Britain's most infamous hangman, he snapped the necks of 450 unfortunates before joining the retired gentlefolk of the resort. It is said that in his final years, at a Southport nursing home, he was haunted by the ghosts of the gallows. 

Something odd happens to the demography around Southport's celebrated main drag as dusk gathers pace. By day, on Lord Street and its tributaries, the average age is 197 in a fight to the death between Marks & Spencer and the Edinburgh Woollen Mill. But as night creeps in, the Night People crawl out. 

Hollow-cheeked, ethereal, clinging to the shadows, they are more DSS than M&S, their numbers only likely to swell as Cameron's Britain squeezes the sick and the inadequate, and leaves the tax dodgers to count their millions. 

You don't find any mention of this twilight spectacle in the visitor guide. Perhaps it was these sallow figures that Albert mistook for his victims. Perhaps the local tourism office keeps them under lock and key until after dark. 

There's no mention, either, for Southport's annual festival of whisky and bigotry, otherwise known as the annual Orange Lodge Parade. Nor for the Southport Party, whose principle reason for existence is the wish to deliver the town from the grubby clutches of Merseyside and back into Lancashire, which is, they reason, “more suited to our resort status”. 

The guidebooks will tell you that Southport has the second longest pier in the country. They won't tell you it has to be that long to reach the sea. You might as well live in Wolverhampton for all the chance you get to dip your feet in the briny. (Question: How can you tell when the tide is in at Southport? Answer: You can't.) Not for nothing are the town's citizens known as Sandgrounders rather than, say, Seasiders. 

The resort is not without its attractions; the striking, floodlit Marine Way Bridge; the fabulous Golden Gallopers Victorian carousel; the mile-long, tree-lined, cast-iron rich boulevard that is Lord Street. 

And now, it seemed, at the north end of Lord Street, an Indian restaurant worth bragging about. 

Evidently so good that the queue for a table regularly stretches into the street on a Friday and Saturday night, though this could have something to do with the fact that you can take your own booze, an item forming a substantial proportion of the bill for many UK restaurant-goers.

A curry-loving friend, who knows his madras from his elbow, had recced the place and recommended it pretty enthusiastically. First impressions are favourable; Saahil is smart and bright, with nice pictures and funky wallpaper to match the funky Indian music. 

We were greeted by a jolly woman, an ex-customer turned employee, who loves the food so much she takes a meal home with her at the end of every shift, and even turns up for a takeaway on her night off. 

She went off singing to herself, giving way to two young men, willing and cheerful, one evidently leading the other through the Waiters' Training Manual. We could only assume they had not yet reached the page containing the brief but all-important “Rule of Thumb”, the one stating that “at no time must said digit come into contact with the surface of the plate”. 

We couldn't say, with absolute certainty, that any thumbs actually touched our food, but we couldn't say they didn't either, and that's no better. If the training manual contains a section advising that “After Eight mints should not be served with sopping wet wrappers”, they haven't covered that bit either. 

Such things may have been forgotten if only the quality of the food had matched its promise. It began well enough, with dry, crisp poppadoms and, among the usual array of accompaniments, a lovely spicy, home-crafted tomato chutney. 

We went for the mix (sic) platter (£6), lamb tikka, seekh kebab, onion bhaji and chicken tikka, on the basis that “it was very good last time”. This time it was grim. The meat uniformly dry and overcooked; the salad limp, discoloured and flavourless. 

Side dishes, all £3, were much better. Daal tarka was well cooked and keenly spiced, aloo gobi made with firm, good-flavoured pieces of potato.

Many of the main courses are given elaborate descriptions emphasising their individuality, yet, other than the obvious, there was little to distinguish a chicken bhuna (£6) from a lamb jalfrezi, (£6) Both were dense and ill-defined, one presented in a light brown muddy sauce, the other in a dark brown muddy sauce. Plain rice was fine, but naan was all wrong, thick and bready like foccacia.

We had gone expecting good things of the food. Unlike the meticulous Pierrepoint, the execution was poor. 



ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. Critics dine unannounced and the company picks up their bills - never the restaurant, never a PR company.




Food 5/10
Service 3/5
Ambience 3/5


665 Lord Street,
Southport, PR9 OAW.
01704 512345

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, curry houses against the best cury houses etc. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect.

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Stephen FaragherJuly 28th 2011.

stick to Jimmy's Grill I knew there was a good reason not to move to Southport

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